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To Dine and Dance

The Court of Two Sisters surged in popularity in the 1930s-1940s

The bar at The Court of Two Sisters, pictured here in 1941, was popular among tourists and locals alike.

Image provided courtesy of: The Charles L. Franck Studio Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1979.325.4685

Named after two sisters who had a sundries and dress shop in the building at 913 Royal St. in the late 1800s, The Court of Two Sisters has been a restaurant since the 1930s. James L. Cooper bought the building in 1937 and was responsible for the restaurant’s initial surge of fame and popularity.

Ads in 1938 described the restaurant as a place to dine and dance. The spacious and beautiful central courtyard featured dinner by candlelight while a string orchestra played French and Spanish tunes. Cooper even brought live opera to the courtyard.

After dinner, a cocktail lounge featured a dance floor and more music, often until 3 or 4 a.m., according to the multiple noise complaints from neighbors.

During the early 1940s, the restaurant became popular with World War II soldiers who were in New Orleans waiting for shipment overseas. Flashlights were provided on every table in case of blackouts, while servicemen enjoyed moonlit evenings in the courtyard. The cocktail lounge was still popular, although because of restrictions placed by the Office of War Mobilization in 1945, the party had to end at midnight.

 Tourists also discovered The Court of Two Sisters in the 1940s. A letter from Art Johnson written to his parents in 1941 upon his first visit to New Orleans described his dinner there:

“WHAT A MEAL! Real, honest to goodness Creole cooking! Oyster Rockefeller, Creole Gumbo, Pompano Papillote /Cauliflower (even this tasted different), Tomatoes, Lettuce / French Bread (big slabs) …

Then dessert can be ordered with above – all this for $1.60. But I couldn’t be satisfied with just plain dessert. I was sold on a strawberry jubilee. The waiter brings out ice cream with the strawberries – then – right on the table – he sets a big burner, and proceeds to burn brandy – while it’s burning, he pours it on the strawberries and ice cream. It’s the moistest delicious dish I’ve ever had.”

 

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